At The Farmers’ Truck, we dream big. And it’s with this attitude that the seemingly impossible becomes possible.
The White House National Strategy has identified mobile produce markets as a solution to end hunger by 2030 and we’re taking action. Looking at statistics of those living with very low food security, we believe an additional 12,000 mobile market programs by 2030 could help eradicate that problem across the country.
This is a lofty goal, but it’s a building block for what we need to do next.
First, let’s explain our journey to this point and where we have come from.
Be Good by Doing Good
Since The Farmers’ Truck came into existence in 2015, we’ve had this strong desire to improve social justice. Our business started with mobile market programs in New Brunswick, Canada. It wasn’t long before we knew this mobile market truck model could be successful in other communities across North America.
The key to our model was increasing food access in as many communities as possible, while doing it in a sustainable way. This is why we became a social enterprise with the goal of being good by doing good. A social enterprise starts with the social problem itself and then designs a business around that. In this way, the business generates income to support itself and can keep supporting its cause.
Mobile Markets Having A Positive Impact
Since 2018, we’ve empowered many organizations across North America to establish mobile market programs. We’ve learned so much during this short time and our mobile market partners have been excellent teachers. We continue to build on this knowledge with an eye on the bigger picture.
So what are some examples of successful programs we’ve partnered with, you may ask? Well, here are some highlights…
Center For Land-Based Learning (California)
The Center For Land-Based Learning in Sacramento, CA has a mobile market program through the West Sacramento Urban Farm Program. Urban farms grow fresh produce and bring it directly to people living in food deserts.
The best way to create the most impact for community residents was to bring the food directly to them. So, a mobile market truck was the answer.
“Having this truck…allow(s) us to go to where people are already going and make accessing that food a much easier process for them,” said Sara Bernal, former Program Manager for the West Sacramento Urban Farm.
The mobile market truck makes stops at senior & affordable housing complexes, where most residents don’t have access to a car.
“Our goal is to get to as many low-income people as possible but all people really need more access to food,” said Sara.
In Colorado, GoFarm is working hard to build a sustainable local food system. Their approach? To strengthen and build on all points of the local food system.
Their mobile farmers’ market is a big part of their success. They found that it’s a great way to reduce many barriers to accessing fresh, healthy food that’s grown right in Colorado. Local farmers have the means to sell their produce, and residents get to enjoy fresh, affordable food at its peak.
“Food is a way in which we’re all connected,” said Jess Soulis, the Community Food Access Program Manager. “Food is so core to all of us.”
“People are really excited about it,” said Jess. “Having the truck, we saw a lot more people driving by and stopping. They’re curious about the truck, what it’s all about, and what GoFarm is up to. I love that people do that.”
“Chuck the GoFarm Truck,” as their mobile farmers’ market is affectionately called, reached about 400 households in 2021 alone.
The Open Door (Massachusetts)
Then, there’s The Open Door mobile market program in Massachusetts. Since starting its mobile farmers’ market truck in 2021, The Open Door has been able to provide another solution to fight food insecurity and hunger in their community.
“The Farmers’ Truck puts our mobile market on wheels and strengthens our capacity to reach people where they gather, live, and learn,” said Julie LaFontaine, President and CEO of The Open Door.
“This kind of food security infrastructure investment connects people to good food and pays big dividends in community health and wellbeing.”
Now, Julie and her team are dreaming of a world where solutions such as mobile markets are bountiful and the norm across North America.
“Mobile markets reduce barriers to access and alleviate the impact of hunger,” she said. “More mobile markets…would help level the playing field and build greater food equity to areas and populations that are underserved.
“Connecting more people to free, fresh, healthy produce – which often is too expensive for those struggling to put food on the table. (That) would promote improved health and wellbeing for those who are food insecure and often at risk for various health concerns.”
Eliminate Very Low Food Security Food Deserts by 2030
So, this brings us back to today. Why is it our mission to significantly increase the amount of mobile market programs across the United States by 2030? The reason behind this is quite simple – people are suffering, along with our healthcare system. We can’t afford NOT to take action.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, close to 5.1 million households had very low food security in 2021. ¹
As well, an estimated 53.6 million people have low access to healthy food when it comes to being far from a supermarket, supercenter, or large grocery store. ²
Inflation has caused food prices to soar. This will continue with healthy foods like fruits and vegetables expected to have the highest price increases. That means people won’t have the nutritious fuel they need to live healthy lives. And this could lead to more sickness, hospitalizations and premature deaths.
Not to mention, the huge toll unhealthy eating takes on the health care system, education system, and more. Right now in America, $50 billion is spent annually on healthcare costs associated with poor nutrition alone.
Who is Taking Action to Solve This Problem?
The White House held the Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health for the first time in 50 years last September. It was a chance for individuals, non-profits, public sector, and private sector stakeholders to come together, share ideas and collaborate. The goal of the conference was to create a national strategy and spur collective action to end hunger in America by 2030.
This year’s conference resulted in securing more than $8 billion in private commitments toward ending hunger by 2030. Everyone from big corporations to non-profit organizations pledged their commitment (and their money) to achieve this goal.
Mobile Produce Markets Are Part of the Strategy
To achieve its goals, the Biden-Harris Administration identified five key pillars of action. Two of those pillars named mobile market programs.
Improving food access and affordability is Pillar 1 of the new National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. This pillar identifies mobile produce markets as programs that the private sector should invest in when looking to serve underserved communities. It also calls on state, local, and territory governments to support mobile produce markets in areas with low food access.
Increasing access to nutrition-related services is a key part of Pillar 2. The National Strategy states that Veterans Affairs will implement and evaluate certain food programs to meet veterans’ needs and increase access. Of the programs listed, mobile food pantries are one.
The acknowledgment of mobile market programs as a tool to increase food access and affordability is a big step in the right direction. The Farmers’ Truck plans to be a major player in providing mobile market vehicles to organizations as part of this National Strategy. We also commit to providing ongoing support to these programs. This will help them strike that balance between financial sustainability and social impact.
How Can I Help?
Every citizen across North America can be part of the solution by refusing to put hunger, poor nutrition, and health on the back-burner. We must talk about this topic so that we can make meaningful progress in helping to end hunger by 2030.
Want to learn more about mobile markets and are wondering where to start? The Farmers’ Truck hosted a webinar on Feb. 8, 2023! The focus was on mobile market programs and their significance in achieving the White House goal of ending hunger by 2030.